State Ethics Commission investigators have alleged that State Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci violated conflict of interest law by hiring his 75-year-old cousin in 2008.
DeNucci allegedly hired Gaetano S. Spezzano as a fraud examiner even though Spezzano never completed the second page of a two-page job application and there was no vacant position at the time.
The ethics regulators said Spezzano was not qualified for the position and no other candidates were considered.
Spezzano had a degree in music and had previously been a professional jazz musician and a salesman for a meat company, the ethics regulators said.
Spezzano went out on sick leave in December 2009 from the $40,545-a-year job. Then in April 2010, after he had used all his sick leave, his employment was terminated.
In a "show-cause order" issued today, the commission's enforcement division said there was "reasonable cause" to believe that DeNucci violated conflict of interest laws and asked the full commission to rule on the case. The commission is expected to schedule a public hearing within 90 days.
"I am extremely proud of the work of the State Auditorís Office. Every day, the quality of our work speaks for itself and improves the operations of state government," DeNucci, who is not running for reelection this fall, said in a statement issued today.
"Joe DeNucci is a high achiever from an unconventional background. He has done an exemplary job and he has not and he does not always hire people with the most conventional backgrounds, but his people always do the job," said DeNucci's lawyer, Thomas R. Kiley.
Kiley also argued that "the task of hiring is his, it's reviewable by the people every four years and Ö it is to the auditor and not the Ethics Commission to determine who is and who is not qualified for the jobs within his office."
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